I’m not afraid of death. I’ve died so many times. Not fully, of course.
When you experience clinical depression or anxiety as a teen, it’s unsettling. You’re already unsettled by the transition period that marks one’s mid-teens, having your world in disarray from shedding your childhood skin, and trying to figure out how to fit into your own. Sometimes it creeps in gradually, like the transition from summer to autumn to winter. Often it comes abruptly, like waking up to dark rain clouds on a June morning. It sits in the place where your inner sun rises. Your limbs are heavier, you run out of words to say in conversations. It’s like the brightness on your phone display going from 100% to 0%. You fade. And the worst part is, you can’t conjure an out.
I read somewhere that depression is the inability to construct a future. So you’re stuck. In an apparently endless, eternal loop of emotional agony. Add to that the prodding questions of those around you, the perplexed faces that fail to understand your reason for not having been out in over a week, the lecturing, the advices dipped in condescension. They don’t say it, but you read in between the lines that they think that you’re weak and lazy. Or is that a projection of your self-hate? Probably. You loathe yourself so much at this point that no one can beat you to it.
When you can’t foresee a future, you start to die. You wither like a flower at the end of August. People think that you die of your suicide. Nah. By the time you take that step, your soul has died long, long before your body.
Anyway, you start to lose life. Like a phone battery. You’re being drained, and you don’t know how to replenish yourself.
The day, the moment the thought of suicide pops into your mind, it’ll be the first lively thought you’ve had had in a long while. Because death *is* a future. Your head gets all tingly at the thought of something so extreme. And although you’ll dismiss it, there’ll be a part of you that holds on to it. Just in case.
You won’t know it, but you’ll revisit that thought daily. You won’t notice the thought because it’ll be like a quick glance. A nanosecond.
And then one day, the thought would have garnered enough strength to come to the forefront. Comes knocking on your conscious mind. And it seduces you with its snake oil selling points, and because you’ve been a mental zombie for so long, you won’t know how to resist the lucrative prospect. And that’s when the machination starts.
You start to plan, research. It’s ironic that in this period you get more active. People comment on how much better you look. You smile and nod, with a tinge of guilt for what’s in store. But you convince yourself that it’s for the better because you’re useless and worthless and they are better off without you.
It’s like you’re in a burning building and your only options are to burn to death or jump. You just want to escape pain, that’s all.
Often, you don’t want to die. You want help. But you’re afraid of the invalidations, of the mockery, of the humiliation of asking for help. You want to live, but you don’t know how.
You’re 15, 17, 19, 22. How *can* you know? The decisions of the rest of your life rests on your shoulders in that period. And you’re out here trying to decide if your shoe size is 39 or 40.
You choose your method matter-of-factly, as if you’re paying bills or doing an exam.
Once you’ve crossed that threshold whence there’s no return, you feel a sense of …peace, for the first time in a long while. The dark clouds are no more. You’re left to enjoy the clear skies for a moment longer. You relax. Close your eyes.
And because it’s not your time to give up, you instead end up violently sick, stitched, scarred, bandaged, and the questions. Why? Why? Why? The blaming. The crying. The hypervigilance. The limping, the staring at the ceilings, the bland food you’ll have to survive on. Survive, when all you wanted was to be let go.
People will never look at you the same way. ‘The One Who Tried to Kill Herself But Failed Because She Probably Did it For Attention Seeking’ aka ‘The One Who Was Going to Go to Hell Had She Died’
And you retreat even deeper into yourself. You give half-baked excuses to get people off your case. You smile, shake hands, do what’s required of you to rid them of their dread. Pretend you’re fine. That it was a hiccup. You learn that you’re all that you have, that others will never understand the pain that drove you to the precipice of life.
The momentary peace you felt as you awaited death was actually you letting go of all that was troubling you. The bizarre irony, huh? So now you really do have a second chance, a clean slate. And although you’ll revisit that precipice five more times in your bumpy journey, you eventually learn how to survive yourself. Literally, survive your mind.
And years later you’ll write about that pain, you’ll explain that pain to those who feel it but can’t understand it. You’ll teach people how to turn away the snake-oil salesman who comes selling you toxic thoughts. You’ll teach people how to live, all because you learnt how to die.